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Equine Assisted Learning Programme

Festina Lente has been providing Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) programmes for over 10 years. It is a process where people work with horses to develop their emotional growth, personal awareness, relationships, and trust.

So what is EAL?

EAL is a ground based (non horse riding) intervention between horses and humans. Working together in a number of activities, with horses often free to roam at liberty, the focus is on developing increased levels of self awareness, and in doing so, facilitate improvements in areas such as:

  • Self-confidence
  • Personal responsibility
  • Boundary setting
  • Teamwork
  • Communications
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision making
  • Leadership skills

What does the research say?

A number of studies have shown that participation in Equine Assisted Learning Programmes have shown improvements in the above areas.  Equine facilitated programmes are experiential by nature allowing a dynamic to develop between the person and the horse providing excellent opportunities for developing self-awareness due to the horses immediate responses to people’s reactions, mirroring people’s emotions and thereby providing instant feedback.

What does Equine Assisted Learning involve?

The team involved comprises of the horse, the participant, an equestrian advisor and a facilitator. The focus of the sessions is generally on the person working with a horse on the ground, so riding is not involved.

What is involved in an Equine Assisted Learning Session?

  • The Equine Assisted Learning session starts with an observation session where people observe horses interacting with each other within an arena space.
  • This is followed by an opportunity for people to approach each of the horses and explore levels of self-awareness when in the company of horses. There are number of activities that can be used as part of the Equine Assisted Learning sessions; in most cases the horses will not wear head collars.
  • Team-focused activities can include individuals or groups to build an obstacle course through which both they and the horses/s walk where the focus is on communications, problem solving and relationships. Other activities explore the individual’s level of awareness and boundaries and how these affect relationships.

Why work with horses?

Prey animals: Horses are prey animals, and as such are particularly attuned to their environment.  Living in a herd, they constantly monitoring their surroundings for safety. Their well being depends on their keen sense of perception and their ability to notice what we might think are the subtlest of cues.

Body language: When we are in their company, horses are keenly aware of not only our body language but our emotional, mental and physical state at all times. They adapt their behaviour accordingly. By observing the horse’s body language and how they interact (or do not interact) with participants and other horses, facilitators offer feedback and encourage self discovery and experiential learning.

Clear communicators: In a herd, horses rely on their highly developed social and relational skills to keep them safe. As such, they are experts in clear communication and in saying what they mean. There are no discrepancies.  Horses read the cues we give them and respond in a clear, non judgemental way.

Immediate feedback: Horses are not bound by time. They live in the present moment and provide immediate feedback. This can help us isolate the smallest shifts within our behaviour minute by minute.

Awareness equals change: In order to change or evolve, we need to become self aware. Horses respond to our behaviour, actions and intentions. By observing these natural responses we can develop enough self awareness to monitor and fundamentally change our own behaviour, actions and intentions.

Size: Responses from large animals are hard to miss! Accomplishing a task with powerful horse by your side can instil confidence which the participant can bring to other challenging and situations in their lives.

The unexplained / X Factor: All that aside, there could be a little magic at the heart of the matter too! Some say when we are in the company of horses feel-good oxytocin is released.

Do you learn to ride a horse?

No, the focus is on working with horses on the ground, observing and interacting with the horse or pony based on the individual’s own level of comfort so you do not need any experience with or riding horses.

Is it Safe?

Yes, the role of the Equine Assisted Learning Programme Facilitator is to ensure the safety of both the people and horses at all times.

How many people can do an EAL session?

We run sessions for groups or solo on a one to one basis. Sessions may be a once off or can be booked over a number of weeks.

Would your company or business like to do team building sessions?

Click here for more information on EAL corporate team building sessions.

Cost

Please click here to view our price list.

How do I find out more information and how do I book?

For further information or to book a place please contact us at eal@festinalente.ie

To download our waiver form, please click here

To download our Equine Assisted Learning application form for children, please click here

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